At this point of the MLB offseason, you can count the number of truly impact players still available via free agency on one hand.
With the Washington Nationals finally re-signing Adam LaRoche (according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post), we need one less finger to count those players.
It's getting ugly out there folks.
Yet there are still teams around baseball that have holes that need filling.
For these teams, the trade market represents their best chance of getting those holes filled.
Gaping Hole: First Base
Chris Davis has power, but he's a designated hitter, and Baltimore knows that, which made allowing Mark Reynolds to walk a bit of a surprising decision.
With LaRoche now back in Washington, Michael Morse is officially on the trade block, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden, and Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes that the Nationals are engaging multiple teams in discussions about the first baseman/corner outfielder:
Nationals looking for LH relief help and/or prospects to help replenish farm system in a Michael Morse swap according to #Nats source— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) January 8, 2013
Source: #Nationals speaking to 5-6 teams about Morse. Earning $7M this season, then eligible for free agency.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 8, 2013
For the sake of the Orioles and their fans, lets hope that Baltimore is one of those teams.
Chicago White Sox
Gaping Hole: Catcher
A.J. Pierzynski is gone and Tyler Flowers is left to handle the everyday catching duties.
Long thought to be the catcher of the future on the South side of Chicago, Flowers has never proven that he can hit major league pitching, leaving a gaping hole in the White Sox lineup.
Boston happens to have three catchers on their roster and one of them would fit what CBS Sports' Danny Knobler reported the team was looking for last month:
White Sox are looking around for a left-handed hitter. Also have let it be known (again) that Gavin Floyd is available.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 21, 2012
The Red Sox need pitching, the White Sox need a catcher who, preferably, hits from the left side.
A deal that sent Floyd to Boston in exchange for switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia makes an awful lot of sense for both clubs.
New York Mets
Gaping Hole: Outfield
If the 2013 season started tomorrow, the outfield in Flushing would be comprised of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter.
While the potential exists for all three to have solid campaigns, it's far from a sure thing—and Duda's best position on the field is first base, currently occupied by Ike Davis.
Sure, the Mets are battling their crosstown rivals, the Yankees, for Scott Hairston's services, as reported by ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews, but Hairston is best in a part-time role.
The Mets need an everyday outfielder with some pop in his bat, and according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, GM Sandy Alderson has already started investigating the trade market:
Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 7, 2013
Whether it's a deal with Arizona or another club, filling the hole in their outfield is something that the Mets must address before the regular season gets underway.
Tampa Bay Rays
Gaping Hole: First Base
Yes, the Rays signed James Loney to replace Carlos Pena (who replaced Casey Kotchman...who replaced Pena).
But at some point, the revolving door at first base must come to an end.
As previously noted, Mike Morse is available—and MLB.com's William Ladson says that the Nationals see Tampa Bay as a perfect trade partner:
Ladson (@washingnats) January 8, 2013
I'm not suggesting that the Rays unload Jake McGee to fill the gaping hole at first base, but there's plenty of quality talent left in Tampa Bay's system that could be dealt to fill that hole.
Gaping Hole: The one left in the middle of the lineup by Josh Hamilton's departure.
No one player can effectively replace Josh Hamilton's production in the middle of the Rangers lineup, but A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman, both on the wrong side of 35, aren't going to come close to getting the job done either.
Justin Upton is the most talked about replacement, but as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted in a recent column, talks between the Rangers and Diamondbacks remain at a standstill:
The Rangers want to acquire Upton without giving up either shortstop Elvis Andrus or infielder Jurickson Profar. Their preference is to build a package around third baseman Mike Olt, and the team is willing to add a top pitching prospect and third quality piece to the package, sources say.
Whether it's ultimately Upton or somebody else, Texas finds itself in a division where it's biggest rival, the Angels, have gotten significantly more dangerous on offense, while the Rangers have taken a step back.
If we know it, than you can be sure that GM Jon Daniels knows it as well.
Rick Weiner is a Featured Columnist covering all of MLB and a member of B/R's Breaking News Team.